Return  for Change campaign launch

Return  for Change campaign launch

Launch of ‘Return for Change’ campaign; (developed by Irish environmental organisation VOICE) for Deposit Refund Scheme to help combat litter and the loss of valuable recycling materials

  • Ireland needs a  robust  Deposit Refund Scheme to reduce litter and increase recycling levels 
  • Deposit Refund Scheme  incentivises  customers  monetarily  to return  containers covered by the Scheme. 
  • International evidence shows that  high-performing  Deposit Refund Schemes  can collect  over 90% of nominated materials for recycling  within two years. 
  • Irish people generate an estimated 3 billion plastic bottles  and half a billion aluminium cans  each year
  • About  1 billion plastic bottles and 1.6 million aluminium cans  end up in landfills/incinerators or littered in our environment  
  • Howth community set to show country how Deposit Refund Scheme works June Bank Holiday Weekend

A dramatic increase in the volume of litter around the country has been one of the many negative aspects of the Covid-19 crisis, in particular the number of drinks containers which unfortunately make their way into our environment and our waterways. The community in Howth, Co. Dublin will be leading the way in showing how a ‘Deposit Refund Scheme’ can help to resolve this problem.

clipping from Irish Examiner

The ‘Return for Change’ campaign, launching today by the Irish Environmental group VOICE, wants to see the urgent introduction of a strong Deposit Refund Scheme (DRS). This would see a deposit placed on certain containers (PET plastic bottles and aluminium cans, initially) at point of sale, which the customers would redeem when the empty container is returned to the retailer to be recycled.  DRS’s are widely used internationally and have been proven to reduce litter and increase the recycling of these valuable resources. 

The EU Single-Use Plastics Directive has set a legal target to collect 90% of plastic bottles by 2030 and under the Programme for Government, the Government has committed to introduce Deposit Refund Legislation to help achieve this target. As aluminium cans will be included in the scheme, the ‘Return for Change’ campaign is seeking a similar target of 90% collection rate. Draft legislation is currently being prepared by the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications to introduce a DRS for drink containers by Q3 of 2022.

“We have to radically revolutionise how we collect and recycle valuable material and a Deposit Refund Scheme would, quite rightly, extend responsibility to the producer as well as the consumer.”, says Mindy O’Brien, spokesperson for the ‘Return For Change’ campaign and  Coordinator of the environmental group VOICE, “We welcome the Government’s proposed Deposit Refund Scheme legislation as a step towards the promotion of the wise ;use of natural resources and the creation of a robust collection and recycling system for valuable materials, like plastic and aluminium. But this legislation must ;be robust and the DRS system needs to be well managed with safeguards if targets are not met. A strong awareness and information campaign is also needed to make the system work.” 

During the June Bank Holiday weekend, the ’Return for Change’ campaign along with the community in Howth, Co. Dublin will be leading the way on Deposit Refund Schemes by organising a demonstration of their own ‘cash for bottles and cans’ system.  

Like other areas around the country, Howth has been plagued by litter, especially at weekends. On June 6th & 7th, the ‘Return for Change’ campaigners along with representatives from Howth’s businesses, community groups, Fingal County Council and Shabra Recycling are coming together to demonstrate how a DRS will work. They’ll be asking people to return their empty plastic bottles and cans to collection points to raise money for local groups such as Howth’s GAA club, Beann Eadair. Every empty plastic bottle and can brought to designated return stations will be counted, collected and sent for recycling, and in exchange, Michael Wright Hospitality and Shabra have generously agreed to donate funds to various local clubs. Based in Castleblayney, Monaghan, Shabra are Ireland’s leading recycler and reprocessors of PET plastic bottles in Ireland, (recycling up to 10,000 tonnes of plastic yearly) and will recycle all the bottles and cans that are collected over the weekend.

“We are very excited about the opportunity for the ‘Return for Change’ campaign to work with the community in Howth to demonstrate how a Deposit Return Scheme will work”, says Michael Wright, of Michael Wright Hospitality. “Hopefully by the end of the day, Howth will have less litter, people will know more about how Deposit Refund Schemes work and Beann Eadair GAA Club will have more funds for their sports people!”  

‘Return for Change’ will be hosting a free Webinar about how a Deposit Return Scheme will work in Ireland on Thursday 10th June from 3.00 – 4.00. You can find out more information about the webinar and the Deposit Return Scheme on the ‘Return for Change’ website at or on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.  

 For more information contact:  

Notes for the Editor

‘Return For Change’ 

This campaign has been developed to get the word out about our upcoming Deposit Return Scheme so that people know why we need it, how to use it and how it works for them and the country.


VOICE is the leading environmental charity advocating for effective waste and circular economy policy in Ireland and on an EU level. VOICE also works closely with communities and individuals on public engagement and education to effect behaviour change around waste generation.

What is a Deposit Return Scheme?

In brief, a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) incentivises people to return their empty containers to a return point to reclaim the deposit they paid when they purchased that item initially. Essentially, a DRS monetises the ‘waste’ covered by the Scheme. 


Photography from Sasko Lazarov (085-7024365) at Photocall Ireland.